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Salvationists attend Conference of European Churches

From left: Commissioners Vibeke Krommenhoek (Officer for European Ecumenical Relations, IHQ) and Jane Panone, (Secretary for European Ecumenical Relations, IHQ), joined the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at the conference.

Seven Salvationists took part in the 16th General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), themed ‘Under God’s Blessing – Shaping the Future’, in Tallinn, Estonia.

Exiled Belarusian politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya opened the gathering with a keynote speech inviting churches to pray for people in her country and Ukraine and to raise their voices for “true peace, true brotherhood and true love”.

The first day concluded with a service at St John’s Church at which Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek (Officer for European Ecumenical Relations, International Headquarters (IHQ)) preached.

They joined more than 300 representatives of 116 denominations, national church councils and partner organisations across Europe.

Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek preaches at St John's Church (credit: Albin Hillert/CEC)

Keynote speakers included former Archbishop of Canterbury the Right Rev. Rowan Williams, who indicated how churches could be a blessing to European societies, and Orthodox His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who focused on ecumenical tasks for the future. After each keynote address, delegates met in small groups to reflect on the themes presented.

War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine had a significant place on the agenda as delegates considered ‘the role of churches in transforming violence’ and how churches can be ‘changemakers in post-war society’. Delegates contributed ideas for CEC’s Pathways to Peace program, designed to enable churches across Europe to support peace, justice and reconciliation.

Seven Salvationists from around the Army world were delegates to the European Conference of Churches.

The assembly had a rhythm of prayer, with morning, midday and evening devotions conducted in the style of different church traditions, as well as Bible studies, which provided insights to aid reflection on the major themes of the assembly. In business sessions, the CEC president, general secretary and various committees presented their reports, and elections to key positions were held.

On Sunday, Salvationist delegates were welcomed at Kopli Corps in Tallinn and took part in the morning meeting.

Reflecting on the assembly, Commissioner Paone said, “The keynote speeches were of an excellent standard, and there was good fellowship. Everything was prepared with much care, and our Estonian friends offered us very warm hospitality, which was greatly appreciated. One simple quotation remains in my mind from former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’s keynote speech: “Love is the appropriate response to the world we’re in. We can discuss and have many different ideas on European and global issues but, finally, unitedly engaging in living out Christ’s love to the world will have the greatest impact.”

Salvation Army delegates included Commissioner Jane Paone (Secretary for International Ecumenical Relations, IHQ), Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts (Territorial Ecumenical Officer, United Kingdom and Ireland Territory) and Major Victoria Lalac (Secretary for Programme, Eastern Europe Territory).


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